Buckwheat Pancakes with Cocoa Nib Pudding

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In terms of things that make me happy, my list would be spending time with my boyfriend, my family, my friends.......and then any time I am served breakfast in a mini cast iron skillet. Seriously though, how happy do you get when you're out to breakfast/brunch and you see the server coming towards you with a piping hot miniature skillet full of deliciousness?! If you're me, pretty darn happy. These pancakes are from the Sqirl cookbook Everything I Want to Eat which is just about the best title for a cookbook I've ever heard of. Whenever I go to Sqirl I am guilty of always ordering the same thing (Famed Ricotta Toast, if you're curious), even though I literally always look at the pancakes and say how good they look. I love Sqirl so much and my visits there are so special that I'm always afraid to stray from the norm, even though everything on the menu is superb. When I saw that the recipe for pancakes is included in the cookbook, I dogeared the page and started stalking Amazon, waiting for the 6-inch cast iron skillets to go on sale. The patience paid off this past week when I got 2 skillets for 12 bucks! These pancakes require a few specialized ingredients: cocoa nibs, corn flour, and buckwheat, but you can find these things in the bulk bins at most health food stores (I found it all at Sprouts). I made these for Noah and I as a weekend linner, and they were So. Good. I called my mom and told her that these might be in the top 3 of baked goods I have EVER MADE. And they are actually pretty healthy, too as far as pancakes are concerned! My qualm with most sweet breakfasts is that they are so heavy that you feel like crap for the rest of the day. The pancakes/waffles/French toast just sit in your gut like a wad of wet paper and you have to go home and sleep it off. These pancakes are different: they are fluffy and light due to the buttermilk, only slightly sweet due to brown sugar and vanilla. You can eat the whole dish and not feel like you're going to have a food baby. The pudding is smooth but not too rich, and it's actually made with almond milk! Jessica Koslow, owner of Sqirl, recommends eating them with whatever fruit is in season (I used blood oranges and raspberries but you could do pineapple, pears, bananas, apples, strawberries, persimmons--whatever you have in your fridge!). Also you totally don't need a cast iron skillet to make these--you can fry them in a pan the old fashioned way, but the skillet adds a little something extra, and now I will be tempted to make them all the time. 

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Cocoa Nib pudding (from sqirl)

  • (makes enough for 3 6-inch pancakes) 
  • 300 ml (1 1/4 cups) plain almond milk
  • 12.5 g (1.5 tablespoons) cornstarch
  • 25 g (1/8 cup plus 2 teaspoons) cocoa powder 
  • 70 g (1/3 cup) granulated sugar
  • pinch sea salt
  • 22 g (0.75 oz) bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 
  • 32 g (1/4 cup) cocoa nibs 

Buckwheat pancakes (adapted from sqirl) 

  • (makes 2 6-inch pancakes plus a little extra)
  • 45 g (1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon) buckwheat flour
  • 50 g (1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon) corn flour (I used Bob's Red Mill brand) 
  • 27 g (1/8 cup) brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • pinch sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla 
  • 240 ml (1 cup) buttermilk
  • 1 egg
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted

Additional Ingredients 

  • 2 tablespoons butter 
  • 2-3 cups of prepared fruit of your choice 
  • powdered sugar 

Instructions:

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Start by making your pudding. Combine 1/8 cup (30 ml) of the almond milk with the cornstarch in a small bowl. Mix with a fork to form a "slurry" (bottom left photo). Meanwhile, in a pot combine sugar, cocoa, salt. Whisk in remaining almond milk gradually. Turn on heat medium-low and heat chocolate mixture, stirring with spatula. Try to remove any clumps of cocoa by smashing them on the side of the pot. Once the mixture is bubbling at the edges, add your cornstarch slurry. Keep stirring with the heat on until mixture thickens and is very shiny, about 3-4 minutes on medium-high heat. Turn off heat and whisk in chocolate and vanilla. Pour into a small cereal bowl and cover with plastic wrap in the fridge (don't add nibs yet!). 

For the pancakes, start by preheating oven to 350 degrees F. 

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In a small bowl combine buckwheat, corn flour, baking powder and soda, salt, and sugar in a bowl. Whisk with a fork to combine. In a separate bowl, combine egg and buttermilk. Whisk either by hand or with an electric mixer on low for 3 minutes, until the mixture is pale yellow and aerated. 

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Slowly add buttermilk/egg mixture to dry ingredients, whisking as you go. Make sure there are no lumps of dry ingredients. Melt butter and stir in (see below). 

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Your batter is now done. Take a scant tablespoon of butter and add it to cast iron skillet on low heat. When it has melted, swirl it in pan to get a good coating. Now add batter, filling it halfway up the side of the skillet. Repeat for other skillet. 

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Heat skillet filled with batter on medium heat on stove for 1 minute before transferring to oven. Set timer for 12 minutes. Alternatively, if you are not using skillets, make pancakes as you would normally on a griddle or in a large frying pan. 

While pancakes are cooking, prepare your fruit. I used blood oranges, sectioning them. I researched a couple ways to do this but I think the easiest way is to cut the bottom and top off of the orange and then cut the sides off, going around the outside until you have what will feel like a little bloody pulp of an orange. Cut into each segment to release it and place in a bowl, as shown below. 

At 12 minutes, take a peek at your pancakes. They are done when the middles feel springy. If they aren't done, return to oven for an additional minute and then check again. Repeat until fully cooked. Mine took about 16 minutes in total because my oven runs a little off. This recipe made 2 adult-sized pancakes with a little batter leftover, and so I used it to make a mini pancake in a mini cast iron skillet!  

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While pancakes cool, take your pudding out from the fridge and uncover. Add cocoa nibs and stir into pudding. Adding them right before serving keeps them crunchy and it's a nice added texture! 

To assemble your pancakes, spread pudding on half of the pancake. The pudding should be thick enough that it won't spread all over. It's almost like frosting a gigantic black and white cookie! Next to the pudding place your fruit going up the middle like a stripe. I alternated 2 raspberries and 2 segments of blood orange. 

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Next, add a dusting of powdered sugar next the the fruit. To try and get it as perfect as possible I used a mesh strainer and gently placed a paper towel on the chocolate/fruit side of the pancake (the height of the fruit will keep it from adhering to the pudding). 

To capture the entire assembly sequence, I took pictures of the mini skillet below! 

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Serve immediately! The pancake will still be warm which will melt the chocolate pudding a little. The mix of textures in this personalized dish are unreal--the smooth pudding, the hearty buckwheat, crunchy cocoa nibs....so good! I found that these pancakes required no extra butter or syrup, but you could always add that if you want, or if you are making them for a kiddo.

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I have truly never seen my boyfriend eat anything so fast (and we are the FASTEST eaters in our house!) so I think he liked them haha! And he is in general a very savory-things-only-for-breakfast type of person. He finished his AND the mini skillet AND the rest of mine that I was too full to eat!  

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Thanks for reading! I start in the ICU on Monday so I feel that may put a damper on my blogging streak, but I still have a bunch of recipes I want to make before Easter!  

Chocolate Pound Cake with Blood Orange Frosting

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Another pink post, are you sensing a theme? 

But in all seriousness I had 4 blood oranges leftover from this tart that I had to use before they became too squishy. I also love a good pound cake/loaf cake, and am totally guilty of splurging on Starbucks lemon loaf and pumpkin bread at the hospital way too often. This recipe, adapted from King Arthur Flour, is a cinch to whip up, bakes up beautifully, and easily comes out of the pan (insert praise hands emoji here). I made it yesterday afternoon when I was done work early and then brought it the next morning to the School of Medicine to share with a couple of my classmates. It's fourth year...interview season is over...it's time to eat cake for breakfast. 

Chocolate pound cake (adapted from king arthur flour)

  • 8 tablespoons butter at room temp
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract 
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2/3 cup cocoa  
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup milk

Blood Orange cream cheese Frosting

  • Juice from 1 blood orange, strained
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon blood orange zest
  • small pinch salt 
  • 4 oz cream cheese, softened 
  • 4 tablespoons butter, softened
  • sprinkles and orange slices for garnishing (optional) 
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Start by combining sugar, baking powder, cocoa, butter, and vanilla. It's easiest to do this with your hands so that you don't have cocoa powder flying everywhere. It should become a crumbly mixture. Add in eggs 1 at a time and beat on medium speed until well incorporated before adding the next. 

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After all 3 eggs are added the batter should look thick, as seen below. 

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Add milk and flour, alternating in 3 batches and mix well, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a spatula. The mixture will finally look like thick cake batter. Pour into greased loaf pan and bake at 350 degrees fah for 60 minutes, checking with a knife or cake tester to make sure it comes out clean. Cool cake COMPLETELY before frosting.  

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When thinking about how to decorate the cake I was inspired by this post by one of my favorite food blogs. The only problem was that I didn't have orange or red sanding sugar. Luckily, you can make your own pretty easily with clear sparkling sugar and gel food coloring. Just pour about 1 tablespoon of sprinkles into a bowl, and add a *very* small drop of food coloring. Mix with clean fingers until the color is well distributed in the sugar. You can combine colors to get the exact shade you want, just remember a tiny but of color goes a long way here. 

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To make this sandy pink coral shade I used a combination of "Dusy Rose" and "Terracotta" colors from Americolor food coloring. 

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For the frosting, cream together butter, sugar, and cream cheese until fluffy. Add 1 teaspoon blood orange zest and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Mix on medium speed. 

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Add strained blood orange juice and mix on medium speed. 

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Slowly add powdered sugar, 1 spoonful at a time until your mixture is thick. It should be spreadable, but not runny. Place in bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and chill in fridge until you are ready to frost. 

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orange slices for garnishing 

orange slices for garnishing 

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To assemble cake spread a generous layer of frosting over cooled cake, and use an offset spatula to make a back-and-forth "wave" pattern on the surface. Sprinkle with colored sugar and place orange slices on top. 

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Ta Da! 

Cake can be eaten immediately or chilled in the fridge for 3 days in glass or plastic tupperware. 

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